I am Una Aya Osato, a performer, educator and writer born and raised in NYC. I have been creating and self-producing award-winning solo performance work for the past 8 years. This year I have created a new 3-person show in collaboration with my sister and father, Michi Osato and Yoshimasa Osato, directed by Moises Belizario. The new work, LOL: The End is a funny and physical look at natural and human-made disasters through the eyes of three clowns: a place where tragedy meets comedy meets stupid.
We have been chosen to perform in the FRIGID NY Theater Festival at the end of February in NYC. This will be the world premiere of LOL: The End. We are currently in rehearsals, tweaking and polishing our work into a finished product.
This work is a continuation of an ongoing dialogue amongst family, friends and strangers spanning cities, forests, and continents. For me, although I may have been unaware at the time, the seeds of this project were planted 10 years ago, when the war on terror became a reality. I found myself unable to comprehend what the death and destruction of war really meant. At the same time, my sister and dad were grappling with similar reflections on destruction and justice.
Simultaneously, large scale natural disasters seemed to become almost commonplace: the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, India, and Africa; hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the gulf coast; the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti; and most recently the earthquakes and tsunami, in Japan. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost and many more were left to suffer. These tragedies, and the inadequate human responses, left us shocked, horrified and desperate to make sense of the pain and destruction.
This new work is a reflection of 3 clowns trying to understand large-scale disasters. We found ourselves grasping for intellectual, spiritual, and tangible ways of dealing with the pain, destruction, and injustice of disaster and disaster-response. Basic questions began to emerge: Why is there an ever growing number of disasters? How do disasters get defined? Which disasters are we responding to? How do we talk to children about disaster? Yet each question birthed infinitely more questions: Why did this occur? Why to these people? Why is this so utterly horrifying? The more we questioned the dark feelings stirred up by seemingly “natural” disasters, the more every aspect of life seemed like a disaster: from food production, to war, to “health” care, to the militarization of society, to depression and emotional voids of consumerist life.
Clowns are unafraid to fail. They continually search for answers when others tell them there is no point in doing so. They immerse themselves in every emotion, unafraid of pain and tears, always searching for joy and laughter, creating new worlds where ever they go. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of destruction we live with, our family looked to clowns with the hope that by allowing the “idiot” to interpret for us, that we would be better able to understand our relationship to disaster and find the ways that still remain to come out hopeful and laughing.
This new work is currently in the final stages of development. We are putting finishing touches on the script, the choreography, the set, the costumes and the makeup. We are recording, editing and preparing all the multi-media components, which is often a facet of my work. We will simultaneously be doing outreach and publicity for the piece to ensure we have a wide range of people with diverse interests in the audience. Some of the funds raised will go towards securing complementary and discounted tickets for communities that might not be able to afford to attend the show. We believe that art/performance can and should be used to mobilize and empower people. We need your support in doing this.
If we reach our goal, funds will go toward supporting the final development phase of the show and ensuring that our strategic outreach campaign is both effective and impactful. We will rent rehearsal space; pay actors for their time and talent; pay others who are assisting with technical and artistic aspects of the show (director, graphic designer, set designer, costume designer, filmmaker and multimedia editor). Funding will also ensure set creation, props and costumes, all of which require time and talent. We are lucky to be supported by some very talented people (many of whom have donated their services uncompensated to past shows) who are willing to devote their time to the show and we need to make sure we can supply them with materials to work with. As I’ve learned from past successful pieces, targeted outreach is essential to ensure that we’re able to reach the widest span of people and encourage them to come and experience this cutting edge work. Specifically, we will be using the funds raised for:
- paying the actors and director
- the festival fee
- printing/publicity costs
- a graphic designer
- a video editor
- rehearsal studio time
- comps/discounted tickets
- a PR person
My approach to creating art has been very D.I.Y. I began writing out of necessity, after realizing that no one else was going to tell the stories I found interesting, or cast me in unique roles. It’s up to me to write them. This project is unique in that it’s a story of creation within our own family. We have never worked together to create a show. My sister is a dancer, actor, and farmer. Our dad is a martial artist, carpenter, and fantastic cook. My sister has been performer all her life, but hasn’t been on stage in years - she’s been living and farming in the forests of Brazil! Our dad has never been on stage but is an everyday performer (a natural clown all the time). Our dad is from Japan and English is his second language, also he is hard of hearing. All three of us often struggle with being understood. Being on stage together in this new work is the best way we know how to communicate with the world right now.
Please check out our rewards and get involved with the project!! We want you to experience our creative process. It is with your support that we can make this happen and share the show with the world. You can also help tremendously by spreading the word about this project. We hope you’ll come with us on this journey of creation, in the face of ever growing destruction, with those oracles of truth and joy: the clowns. Thank you!!!
Talk to you soon
Una's Previous Shows:
JapJAP is about how politics live in our bodies, break us apart, and how to piece ourselves back together again (I play all 9 characters, most of who are my various body parts);
Recess is about 7-year-olds growing up and navigating life and public school in NYC (I play all 5 students and their teacher);
Keep It Movin’ is an autobiographical show about how I have come to understand who I am through the stories and lives of 8 other women of color (I play all 10 characters based off a series of interviews I did with foundational women in my life).
All of my work explores the stories of those who are typically on the margins of society and tries to highlight the inspiration that is within all of that.
I’ve performed my original work in theaters, festivals, schools, prisons, cafes, universities, and in community organizations. I’ve performed in California, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, Boston, New Jersey, Las Vegas, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Grahamstown and Capetown South Africa. I’ve performed at universities including: Yale, Princeton, Brown, Wesleyan, Oberlin, Middlebury, Sara Lawrence, UC Monerray Bay, CUNY Grad Center, Hunter, NYU, and the University of SF.
Awards for Una’s previous work:
Winner: “Best of the Fest” (for Recess, Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2011, CA)
Winner: “Audience Choice Award” (for JapJAP, FRIGID NY Festival 2011, NYC)
Winner: "Best Female Solo Show" (for Recess, San Francisco Fringe Festival 2009, SF)
Winner: "Volunteer Pick Award" (for Recess, FRIGID NY Festival 2009, NYC)
Nominated: "Outstanding Solo Performance" (for Recess, New York Innovative Theater Awards 2009, NY)
Winner: Level One (for Theater, YoungArts formerly National Arts Talent Search Competition, 2000)
Finalist: to become a Presidential Scholar (2000, USA)
Una in the press:“a tour-de-force” --The Montreal Gazzette (MONTREAL)
***** (five out of five stars) -- Toronto Eyeweekly (TORONTO)
“… incredible concentration, discipline, and lightning agility from Ms. Osato as a performer … allows the audience to witness a virtuoso performance...” -- My Cultural Landscape Blog (SAN FRANCISCO)
“...pure and compelling...undeniably powerful and very well put together piece of performance... Osato's freakily flexible dramaturgical hands - she powers through personas like an Olympic shapeshifter - it comes off with resonance and poignance...” The Hour (MONTREAL)
“Politically aware, touching and entertaining.” -- THE GAZETTE (MONTREAL)
“Osato is a pretty special actress... It's hard to come away from her one-woman play Recess unmoved.” --The Hamilton Spectator (HAMILTON)
“a multi–faceted chameleon–like bravura performance.” -- The View (HAMILTON)
- (40 days)